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Denham stays in Congress
Denham pic
Congressman Jeff Denham and his wife Sonia exit Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock on Election Day after casting their votes in the Presidential General Election. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Courier

A mostly negative campaign trying to link Jeff Denham to Donald Trump did not gain any traction for Democrat Michael Eggman, who lost his second bid for the 10th Congressional District seat last week.

Republican incumbent Denham held onto his seat by a margin of 52.4 percent, or 80,668 votes, to Eggman's 47.6 percent, or 73,246 votes.

The Denham-Trump association ads did take a toll on Denham's support in the district but were not overpowering given that Trump carried the county.

Democrats invested heavily in the contest in an attempt to reduce the GOP's majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the polls showed a close race in the weeks leading up to the election. The 10th District was moved from a rating of "lean Republican" to a "toss-up" last month by both the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Over $11 million was spent on the closely-watched race, with outside groups reporting spending at least $8.2 million. Individually, Denham and Eggman had reported spending an additional $3.7 million through Oct. 19.

The two largest outside contributors were the Republican-run Congressional Leadership Fund and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which both spent more than $3 million in the race. The Democrat's House Majority PAC also spent more than $1 million on behalf of Eggman.

Though Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage in the Republican-held 10th Congressional District, it was not enough for Eggman to take the lead. In addition to the race's heavy-spending, the Turlock beekeeper attacked Denham throughout the campaign for supporting Donald Trump through a cascade of attack ads and mailers, also to no avail.

In the 12th state Assembly race, voters in eastern Stanislaus County (including Hughson and half of Modesto) sent Heath Flora over Ken Vogel to replace Kristin Olson. Olson did not run because of term limits and has decided to seek a seat on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors to take Bill O'Brien's seat. Flora handily defeated Vogel by 52.2 percent (or 52,864 votes), or Vogel's 47.8 percent (or 48,413 votes).

The man who represents Ceres in the State Assembly, Adam Gray, defeated Republican challenger Greg Opinski in the low-key 21st Assembly District race. Gray received 68.4 percent of the vote, or 51,615 votes, in contract to Republican Opinski's 31.6 percent, or 23,885 votes.

The results of the race for the Yosemite Community College District Area 7 board seat are too close to call with more ballots to be counted. As of last week, incumbent Tom Hallinan of Ceres was behind farmer Jon Rodriguez, who was showing 50.51 percent of the vote (6,138 votes). Unofficial vote counts had Hallinan in second place at 49.14 percent, or 5,971 votes.

Statewide voters decided between two Democrats to take over Barbara Boxer's U.S. Senate seat. State Attorney General Kamala Harris received 62.7 percent of the vote, or 5,264,471 votes, to defeat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez picked up 37.3 percent of the vote, or 3,129,611 votes.

Voters in Hughson Unified School District decided on two measures affecting schools. Measure Q was the first, a $3.2 million bond measure to improve the quality of education, upgrade elementary and middle school classrooms, a new restroom facility at the middle school, install a new field irrigation system at the elementary school and install a security camera system. The measure appears to have passed with the minimum 55 percent majority. In unofficial vote tallies, Measure Q received 57.84 percent of the "yes" vote, or 1,486 votes, and 42.16 percent "no" votes, or 1,083.

Also appearing to pass is Hughson's Measure R, a $2.2 million bond issuance to install a new air conditioning system in the gym, re-roof the gym, provide an all-weather track install a security camera system. The measure needed 55 percent for passage and managed to attract 58.09 percent support, or 1,841 votes. Opposition was running at 41.91 percent, or 1,328 "no" votes, in the unofficial results.

California residents voted in favor of Proposition 64 at the polls on Tuesday, meaning that marijuana is now legal for recreational use in the Golden State. But, when do the laws surrounding Proposition 64 and other measures that passed in California go into effect?

By a margin of about 56 percent to 44 percent, voters passed Proposition 64 to make California the fifth state to legalize recreational pot. As of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday Californians over the age of 21 can now legally smoke and consume cannabis, as well as grow it at home. The proposition allows residents to legally possess up to an ounce of weed and grow six marijuana plants at home, and home cultivation must be done in a fully enclosed and secure way, such as inside a home. While it will be illegal to purchase marijuana plants before adult use sales begin, until then residents can "share," meaning that if someone is already cultivating cannabis legally by way of a medical marijuana card, they can share a bud or clone with their friend so that they may grow as well.

Adult use sales of marijuana will not begin until Jan. 1, 2018, however, and will be highly regulated and heavily taxed. A 15 percent tax will be placed on the retail price of marijuana, and cultivation taxes will be excised for dispensaries as well. According to California's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, the state could collect up to $1 billion in taxes a year, which under the proposition will go toward covering costs of administrating and enforcing the measure, as well as drug research, treatment and enforcement.

Adults may not smoke or ingest weed in public, though Proposition 64 will eventually allow for licensed on-site consumption. It's still illegal to smoke marijuana and operate a vehicle, and exact protocols for determining if a driver is impaired by marijuana will be set out by the California Highway Patrol. Edibles sold in California will be low-dose, breaking off into sections with 10 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive agent, so people know exactly how much they are eating and will be in childproof packaging.

Proposition 56, or the Tobacco Tax Increase, passed as well by a margin of 63.2 percent to 36.8 percent. Under the proposition, the cigarette tax will be increased by $2 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. California previously had a tobacco excise tax of $0.87 per pack, bringing the total tobacco tax up to $2.87 per pack. Revenue from the additional $2 tax is allocated to various tobacco-related healthcare research and prevention. The tax will not go into effect until April 1, 2017.

Proposition 57, the governor's plan to reduce the state's prison population, was voted yes on by nearly two-thirds of the state's voters. The proposition will increase parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and slowing judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.

California voters lowered the state's prison numbers in 2014 thanks to Proposition 47, which reduced certain nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors and gave more inmates a higher chance for parole consideration. Thanks to the passing of Proposition 57, an estimated quarter of California's nearly 130,000 prison inmates could seek earlier parole, and the review process has already begun. Law enforcement went on record as being against the measure, saying it will further drive up crimes in California communities.

Proposition 63 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and will prohibit the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and require certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. The proposition received nearly a 63 percent yes vote in California. Individuals who wish to purchase ammunition must first obtain a four-year permit from the California Department of Justice. Dealers must check with the DOJ to determine if the buyer is authorized to purchase.

Though California banned large-capacity magazines for most individuals in 2000, those who had large-capacity magazines before 2000 were allowed to keep the magazines. Proposition 63 removed this ownership exemption, and those who do not comply may be charged with an infraction. Ammo purchased out-of-state must first be delivered to a licensed dealer, also, rather than carrying it across state lines.

Proposition 67, or the Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum, was also passed by voters and upholds contested legislation banning certain plastic bags, which was enacted by Senate Bill 270. Senate Bill 270 was designed to prohibit large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing plastic single-use carryout bags and ban small grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores from doing so the following year. Single-use plastic bags are allowed for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items.

The ban takes effect immediately, but the statewide law allows municipalities to continue to operate under their own guidelines if the ordinances were adopted before Jan. 1, 2015 - otherwise, the communities must comply with the new state law.

Several propositions were continuations of existing law. Proposition 55, which is an extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase, was passed by California voters on Tuesday as well. Voters supported extending the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000, which was approved in 2012 for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare.

Proposition 52 was also passed in California, continuing hospital fee revenue dedicated to Medi-Cal beyond Jan. 1, 2018. The yes vote also ensured the requirement of a two-thirds majority vote of the California Legislature to end the program.